LG

LG Releasing Curved TV in May

LG is having quite the busy day, with the release of the Optimus F5 occuring immediately after yesterday’s announcement. In addition to this, LG made the anticipated announcement that their curved OLED TV, the first of its kind, will be available within the next month.

The curved TV is a really unique idea that has mostly only been seen in IMAX theaters. The curved screen allows viewers to feel more engrossed in the experience.

For those unfamiliar with OLED technology, OLEDs are LEDs made with organic material. Though manufacturing costs are currently extremely high, the actual material should cost less to produce than LEDs once mass manufacturing methods are created. OLED tech offers much better pictures than LED and plasma. Refresh times are incredibly quick, and viewing angles are every bit as good as plasma TVs. Color depth is better than in any other current technology, and this includes black levels. There is also no ghosting when using OLEDs.

OLEDs are flexible, which has helped the curved OLED TV to be possible. With any new technology though, the price tag is an initial deterrent for early adopters. A 55″ flat OLED screen will cost $12,000.

The curved OLED TV also offers some nice specs physically. The TV will weigh just over 37 pounds, and will only be 0.17 inches in total depth.

In their announcement they made today, they will be releasing a curved 55″ model in South Korea for 15 million won (roughly $13,500). For those tech junkies in South Korea who can afford this, pre-orders started today with shipments being made sometime in May.

I’ve always been a bit intrigued by curved displays. I feel like virtual reality won’t be as immersive until we can be surrounded fully by a screen. Whether that is through virtual reality glasses that move with our face, or with a TV that goes all the way around us, OLEDs seem to be pointing in the right direction for more immersive entertainment experiences.

There is no official release date given for OLEDs in markets outside of South Korea, but it can be expected that they’ll make it over here before too long. If you really want to, shipping the carbon fiber framed TV over here wouldn’t be too excessive if you’re already willing to pay that much for the TV.

Source: Engadget

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Nokia-Asha-210-Dual-SIM

Nokia Asha 210 – Price, Specs and Pictures

Nokia is busy fighting the top dogs in the Smartphone industry, but it is the top dog in the feature phone market. To further strengthen its position, the Finnish company has launched the Nokia Asha 210, the latest in the Asha series. This phone aimed at the youth who rely heavily on texting and are extremely budget conscious. This is evident from the bright colors, the low price and some interesting features present in this device.

nokia asha 210 specs

The phone comes with a full QWERTY keyboard and is available in both single and dual SIM models. The dual SIM version comes with an EASY SWAP feature which allows the user to change the secondary SIM without switching off the handset. The Asha 210 has a design language similar to the Lumia series and the phone will be available in five different colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black and White. It supports access to Facebook, Twitter and popular email accounts and also has a YouTube app for direct video streaming.

Nokia-Asha-210-Dual-SIM-Easy-Swap

The phone has a soft – touch plastic body and even though it is not a single piece of polycarbonate, Nokia has tried to make it look similar to Lumia series by making the casing as seamless as possible. Like the previous QWERTY phones from Nokia, there are menu and navigation buttons above and below the dedicated WhatApp and camera keys. WhatsApp? Yes! The Nokia Asha 210 has a dedicated WhatsApp button for quick access to the app and also WhatsApp is free for life, which is otherwise charged at $0.99 annual subscription in other models and platforms.

The Asha 210 will have a dedicated Facebook, Weibo or WhatsApp depending on where you are. There is no confirmation yet on which markets will have which dedicated key. But we sure hope it is configurable.

The biggest attraction of the phone is the battery life, it is said to be 46 days of battery stand by with the Single SIM and up to 24 days on the Dual SIM. It has a talk time capacity of 12 hours on 2G.

The phone has a 2 MP rear camera with a 600×1200 resolution and supports basic editing and sharing functions. The 210’s camera has a built–in voice guide for those self portrait obsessed users out there which ensures that the user is in frame before the click.

The phone supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR but does not support 3G. The phone has 32MB of RAM and has an internal memory capacity of 64MB and has an expandable memory capacity of 32GB with a MicroSD card. The screen size is 6.1 cm and has a 2.4 inch LCD screen with a QVGA resolution of 320×240 pixels and weighs 99.5 grams.

Nokia asha 210 dual sim phone

Slam – Nokia’s Bluetooth based content sharing functionality which was debuted in the first Asha devices is also present in Asha 210. Slam allows users to transfer content such as images or videos to other Bluetooth – enabled phones by eliminating the need of pairing the devices. The phone supports Chat screen notifications. The phone comes with Nokia’s Xpress Browser which uses the company’s cloud technology to reduce data content by up to 90%. The phone also supports Nokia Nearby – a location based Web app that finds nearby restaurants, shopping centers, etc. There is also an FM radio module built-in.

It looks like the phone will not be available in the US markets and will be launching in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia in the second quarter of 2013.

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Nokia QWERTY Phone Coming Soon

I still use a Nokia E5 just for its comfortable QWERTY keyboard. So, when Nokia released the image above along with a teaser about an event to be held tomorrow, I am one of those very few people who are excited about it!

“On Wednesday morning at 7am GMT we will be announcing something new, followed by a Q&A session with Neil Broadley from our Mobile Phones team and a special guest,” wrote Ian Delaney on the Conversations by Nokia blog.

The image gives the device a rounded design language which the public has now come to associate with the company’s latest feature phones. The image also does show the keys “Z” and “Shift Keys” which implies there is a physical QWERTY keyboard involved. Currently none of the Windows Phone 8 devices come with a hardware keyboard. The Nokia’s Asha feature phones come with a QWERTY and also do closely resemble the design language of the latest Nokia Lumia releases hinting that this is probably an “Asha” model.

The market does lack a Windows Phone with a hardware keyboard and if that is due tomorrow then Nokia has the unique opportunity in bridging the gap. But given the strict hardware controls that Microsoft enforces on the WP8 devices, it might not be happening either. Another detail in question is the time the unveiling takes place. It is said to be at 7 am GMT- 3am ET and 12 am PT on April 24, 2013. The time zone is nowhere close to any in America, so wild guess is that this handset may not even sell in the U.S but is meant for the markets in Asia.

If I were to guess, this is probably a Series 40 device with the signature Nokia QWERTY keyboard, a small non-touch 2.5 inch display, and has a decent RAM and storage. The wait is not too long and in just a few hours, we will know more!

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whatsapp

WhatsApp Is Now Bigger Than Twitter

In 2009, WhatsApp was introduced to the world. Based in Silicon Valley, WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging service that saves people from carrier SMS text messaging charges which have been on the rise lately.

This app now has more than 200 million active users. The company CEO, Jan Koum, was speaking earlier this week at the Dive into Mobile Conference and has mentioned that they are currently processing 20 billion messages everyday of which 12 billion are outbound and 8 million are inbound. He also announced that “WhatsApp is now bigger than Twitter”. Jan Koum did not share any specific figures though.

This almost-free messaging app is available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Nokia. Nokia even put a dedicated key on its recently released Nokia Asha 210. WhatsApp is seen as an internet based threat to messaging than as a competitor to social networks like Facebook and Twitter even though some features overlap.

Koum has announced that WhatsApp will not be following Facebook and Twitter in carrying advertisement within the app. They intend to keep the subscription model of 1$ per year for the foreseeable future. Koum also denied rumors that the company is in talks with Google to sell WhatsApp. “Our goal is to build a sustainable, independent company. We want to build a business,” he said at the Dive into Mobile Conference. He also rejected another rumor that WhatsApp is turning into a broader platform that includes games by saying that mobile and messaging are the only things that they do.

WhatsApp currently charges a one time download fee of $1 for its iOS users. Koum has said that later this year the iPhone users will be migrated to the annual subscription plan like it is on other platforms. Being available for all mobile platforms makes WhatsApp an awesome replacement for standard text messaging and also has the ability to share photos, videos, audio notes and more. It also helps keep in touch with select friends with its group feature. In a very fragmented space, with a dozen apps competing for market share, WhatsApp seems to be doing very well!

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Tax

Internet Sales Tax Gaining Momentum in Washington

If you’ve been one of the many people who have enjoyed shopping on sites such as Amazon, then you might be in for a surprise the next time you make a purchase. Instead of only having to pay sales tax if the online retailer is based out of your same state, you might have to pay sales tax anytime you make an online purchase if a bill passes through Congress.

What this bill would do if it became law is require any online business to charge sales tax based on where the buyer is living. An estimated $23 billion in sales tax was lost last year because of out-of-state purchases. This bill would also help to strengthen local businesses, as they would be on the same playing field as their out-of-state online competitors.

Despite this being in essence a tax increase, Republicans in the U.S. Senate have backed the bill, citing how it does nothing more than give states authority to enforce their own tax laws.

In the current proposed bill, online retailers who make less than $1 million in sales would be exempt from the law, so it still would allow small businesses to grow and expand without needing to charge sales tax.

States with no sales tax have put up the most opposition to the bill. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said “We don’t like the idea of other states auditing our businesses.” Many others claim that this bill is all about states just looking for another way to nickel and dime consumers, while making the federal government out to be a scapegoat.

In a test vote done on Wednesday, the current bill passed in the Senate by a wide 74-23 margin. Barring more discussion, a final vote is likely to take place either today or tomorrow. The bill would then be sent to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it will have a more difficult time passing.

If you haven’t contacted your senators and representative yet, now is the time to do so if you want your voice heard. These changes will have an impact on any U.S. citizen who does a frequent amount of online shopping.

Source: Yahoo!

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Amazon

Amazon Joins the Advertising Market

Google has been the undisputed king of internet advertising for many years now. With access to our search history, Google has a great wealth of knowledge of each individual they come in contact with. What they don’t have though, is our spending habits, something that would be very important for giving us advertisements on what to spend our money on. Amazon has this information, and they’re not starting to use it.

Amazon has been doing advertising within their own borders so to speak for many years now. They’ve been storing the data on search history within the store as well as what items you buy in order to give you the best suggestions that they could.

Google has been using our information to create advertisements for so long that it has just become an accepted fact. Search results, location, downloaded apps, and other minute details about our lives have only gotten them so far.

Amazon offers a unique position in the advertising market because they know what we’re willing to spend large amounts of money on. Everyone else can find our interests, but Amazon knows what we like to purchase, something that advertisers desperately would want to know.

Although Amazon started outside advertising in the end of 2010, it didn’t really get into the advertising game until recently when it started advertising in mobile devices. Amazon is not only going to be the largest online retailer, but it will soon rival Google with the amount of information that it knows about us.

The internet retailer has gotten its feet wet over the past several months, and it appears ready to expand their wings as they try to take a chunk of change out of the advertising market. Amazon already makes $500 million a year through their advertising market. Within a couple of years, analysts predict that this number could rise to $50 million.

With Amazon being home to the most important data on how we spend our money, it isn’t surprising that the people who want our money are flocking to them asking for this data. Don’t be surprised if Google gets passed by Amazon sometime this decade for the most powerful advertiser in the world.

Source: Reuters

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Pizza

Order Pizza from Your Xbox 360

Have you ever been so engrossed in a game to where you’ve completely lost track of time? Usually the growl of the stomach will awaken a gamer back to reality, letting them know that they haven’t eaten (or done anything else for that matter) in hours. Pizza Hut and Microsoft have teamed up to solve that issue by allowing you to order pizza through Xbox Live.

The Pizza Hut app is the first of its kind for Microsoft’s console. Gamers now have access to the entire Pizza Hut menu with just a click of a button on their controller. Unlike cell phone apps where the menu can sometimes be limited depending on your location, the Xbox app will feature the entire menu as if you were ordering online. You can also make specialty orders, such as eliminating sauce or cheese from your pizza if that’s your thing.

Another cool integration is that you can use Kinect for gestures and voice command, making ordering pizza even easier than ever. That’s not all though, as you can also share your order on Facebook if you feel so inclined.

Pizza

 

This new app is just one more way for Microsoft make their console appeal to everybody. Microsoft has been given a lot of heat for focusing on things such as apps and media enhancements instead of focusing on games for their gaming machine.

For the aforementioned gamer who has been sucked in to their game though, it’s still probably easier for them to order pizza by using their cell phone or PC instead of closing out their game to go to the dashboard. I personally don’t see much use for the app. I downloaded it today and it does seem like it’s easy to use, though not nearly as quick as ordering on a PC would be.

The app released today for Xbox Live members. If you download the app and place an order before May 6th, you’ll get 15% off that first order. That might be worth it for a download, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that order is the only one you ever make.

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Razer

Razer Honors Unintended 90 Percent Off Coupon that Went Viral

If you’ve been PC gaming for awhile, it’s likely that you’ve heard of Razer. Razer is a company that produces some of the best peripherals for PC gaming fanatics. Recently, a 90% off coupon for items bought through Razer’s online store leaked, allowing consumers to buy some of the best peripherals money can buy for just a fraction of their intended cost.

In a surprising twist, Razer’s CEO Min-Liang Tan announced today through a statement that Razer will not invalidate these orders, despite that being well within their legal rights. Instead, Razer will honor the orders made using this coupon, delighting the many gamers who used the coupon.

Razer will take a huge loss financially because of this due to the number of orders made, but it is likely that they have built strong customer support that they’ll have for many more years. With such a niche market previously, it definitely won’t hurt for them to get their product into the hands of people who were unwilling to pay the cost before they knew how valuable the product really was.

Min-Liang Tan did note that it would likely take several weeks or even months before the orders will be filled, but that consumers should be patient. Coupons will also be void if the consumer used it on multiple orders of the same item.

In a world where companies seem to be all about the bottom line, it is a nice breath of fresh air to see Razer acknowledge the consumer’s situation. At a time when companies force anti-consumer DRM on their products (I’m looking at you, SimCity), employees at other tech companies are telling the public to “deal with it,” it is nice to see Razer do what they can to keep their customers happy.

If you’ve ever experienced using a Razer product, I’m sure you understand how helpful they are to the PC gamer. We can only hope that this decision pans out for the company, and that other companies in the tech industry begin to take notice. If you’re interested in buying a Razer product, you can find their website here.

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Google Fiber Expanding to Utah

If you haven’t heard any tech news lately, Google is working on a project that will hopefully revolutionize our internet usage. Google Fiber has been launched in Kansas City. It was announced last week that it would expand to Austin, TX. Now, Google has announced that Provo, UT will get Google Fiber.

Google Fiber is going to be great for consumers once it becomes more widespread. Google is offering 1 gigabit per second for $70 a month, an additional TV package that features a wide selection for another $50 a month, and if you don’t want to pay for a subscription than you can get 5 megabit per second internet for a one time $300 fee, which has often been waved. Subscription packages don’t require this fee.

What’s going on is that Google is installing fiber optics in these cities and offering this service to people in the area. Prices are similar to what consumers pay for cable connections currently, but the internet speed will be roughly 100x faster. Google also promises that HD picture will be far more clear, with less of a need for file compression.

Provo, Utah might seem like a strange choice to some, but Google sees a lot of potential for internet usage in the city. Provo is the home of Brigham Young University, one of the best private schools in the country academically. Provo also features many start-up businesses, which could use the benefit of the faster internet services.

Provo also offers an advantage for Google, since a fiber optics infrastructure is already partially in place. Google will by buying a company called iProvo who has been trying to place a fiber optics system in the city for nearly a decade.

Google plans on adding their structure to the city as soon as it clears local government approval.

My speculation is that Google will start to expand their Google Fiber project more quickly. After announcing Kansas City would be their first city two years ago, Google has now announced two cities in less than a ten day period. I expect this summer that we’ll start to see Google expand this to some larger cities, before tackling a place like Los Angeles or New York City sometime in the next year.

image source

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Galaxy S4

Galaxy S4 Release Dates Announced for US Networks

For all those Android fans out there looking for a new phone over the next year, if you haven’t heard, the Galaxy S4 is supposed to be pretty good. If you’re like me and on the verge of needing a new cell phone, then you’ve probably at least considered it. If you are interested in buying the new phone from Samsung, then you’ll be happy to know that it’ll be available for seven different carriers over the next two weeks.

The Galaxy S4 will offer an impressive list of carriers, covering all of the major US networks. Those carriers are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, U.S. Cellular, Cricket, and C Spire. Samsung has stated that all carriers will have the new phone by the end of the month.

Samsung has left the carriers to make their own announcements for release dates and their individual pricing, and some of the major networks have made those announcements already.

AT&T

Pre-orders started on April 16th for AT&T, where you can pick up the 16 gig Galaxy S4 in either white or black for $199.99 with a two year plan. Though no official release date has been set, the tentative shipping date is April 30th.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile will sell the phone online beginning April 24th for $149.99 plus device payments if you qualify for their brand new Simple Choice plan which offers $50 for unlimited talk and text with a 500 MB data package with no overhead contracts.

Spring

Sprint will also sell the 16 GB phone for $250 with a renewed contract or $149 for a new Sprint customer. It will be available beginning on April 27th. Sprint will offer unlimited 4G LTE data with the Galaxy S4, unlike AT&T and Verizon.

Verizon

Verizon has yet to make any announcement, though we can expect that it will likely release by the end of April based on Samsung announcing that it will be available on all seven networks by the end of the month.

The Galaxy S4 has an outside chance of taking the smartphone throne away from the iPhone. With the Android market consolidating a bit over the past two years, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Samsung finally challenge Apple in the sales counts.

Source: Yahoo!

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